The Alpha Blonde


This article was written on 13 May 2010, and is filled under 31 days of Fresno, Folks to know in the 'No, James Leath, Trainer James.

Folks to know in the ‘No: Trainer James

Its no secret that I really freakin’ love working out. I also like to comb teh internets for fitness blogs and tips for staying motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle. That’s how I found out about Trainer James- imagine my excitement when I discovered that he was a Fresnan to boot! (And we share the same alma mater. Sweet!)

This guy is a powerhouse. He blogs, he offers personal training, he challenges people on his Facebook– he’s practically omnipresent with his constant nudging to “Sweat It Out”.

This is exactly why I wanted him to be my first “Folks to know in the ‘No” interviewee. So without further ado, I bring you James Leath!

When someone comes to you for training, what can they expect?

I plan on being in this business for a long time so one thing they can expect is longevity. I am not a part time trainer or just trying to make money in between careers- I love what I do. Each client is an opportunity for success and I plan each workout accordingly. I am not a licensed nutritionist so I do not prescribe diet plans, however I spend the bulk of my study time on things pertaining to nutrition because of how crucial it is to eat right when attempting to get healthy. I work hard to keep up with the latest exercise techniques and to keep workouts fun and challenging. I like to joke around when appropriate but I take my work seriously so I expect an excellent effort every session.

What is it about Fresno that makes this a great place for you to do your work?

My favorite part of Fresno is two fold: first, the location. I love being only a few hours from the snow, the beach, and the desert. Second, Fresno is big enough to make a name for yourself and at the same time small enough to run into someone you know wherever you go. Fresno is definitely an “it’s who you know” kind of place but the standards are high enough that you have to have the knowledge to really succeed.

When did you know that motivating people to lead healthier lives was your calling?

I have always seen myself as an encourager, but it took me a long time to discover what area I would seek to use that trait for others. My father lost 100 pounds a few years back and that caused his medications to decrease from 10 pills a day to 1 simply because of exercise and healthy nutrition. I saw how much “life” was back into his world and I knew I wanted to help others in that way.

A few years later I watched my first episode of “The Biggest Loser” and found myself running the gamut of emotions every time I watched. Most people watch that show and see the contestants lose weight and think, “That could be me! I could do that!” But I watch that show and see the trainers, Bob and Jillian, and think, “That could be me! I could do that!” To this day it is my favorite show. I may not be on that show, but everyday I wake up before the sun just thrilled that I get to spend the day in the gym helping people get their life back.

If I remember correctly, you were pretty athletic in high school (I was a freshman when you were a senior- it’s cool if you don’t remember me, haha!) did that lay the groundwork for what you do today?

Most definitely. My home life was less than ideal so I spent the bulk of my youth in the classroom, the weight room, on the field, or pounding the court. My adventurous youth showed me what the body is capable of and I want others to experience the amazing things our bodies can do. Our bodies were designed to run and jump, not sit and slouch. One of the best parts of what I do is taking someone who has lead a sedentary life and helping them develop their body so they can go hiking, jog their neighborhood, and in some cases join me in a triathlon! I am in a very rewarding career.

Looking at your internet following, they seem to be from all over the place, not just from Fresno. How did all of these people learn about your blog and Facebook page?

Honestly, I am humbled and quite frankly shocked at all the followers that I have had the pleasure of talking to though Facebook. I think the response is good because of two things: First, I am not a sugar-coating kind of guy. I post things like, “You don’t wake up fat,” and “Your lame excuses are why you can’t lose weight” and you either like it or not. I know there are many people out there that know there is no quick fix and they just want some honestly and encouragement to get them to take the next step towards a healthy body. Secondly, I am not trying to sell anything. I have my opinions on certain products but I don’t push people to buy anything. If I find something I like, or a client sends something my way that has worked for them, I share it.

What would you suggest as a good starting point for someone who is just starting to implement a fitness program after leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle?

Actually, that is a loaded question. The normal response is “Just get started. Go to a gym and get your body moving.” Of course, that is not enough and most people need guidance. Hiring a trainer is a great start. Training is expensive but so are the diseases developed from obesity; so really its pay now or pay later. I have quite a few clients I see once a week or every other week to help them spice up their own workout routine but others need guidance more often in the beginning, so they come in 3 to 4 times a week.

If a trainer is out of the question, look at your surroundings and make some changes. First, attack the kitchen. If your diet is full of chips, cookies, cakes, and pasta then it is no wonder you do not have the energy to work out. Start with eating foods that came from a farm, preferably from a local one. Second, its amazing to me how many parents fight to keep sports and PE programs in school, only to get home after work and sit on the couch watching TV for 3 hours, stuff their face, then repeat it the next day. There are numerous studies showing the correlation between obesity and watching TV. According to these studies, the more you watch, the more overweight you are. My bride and I saved over $1200 last year by not having cable. That kind of money can buy some great exercise equipment!

What kind of breakthroughs have some of your clients had in their fitness goals?

Recently, the best man at my wedding has lost over 50 pounds in 4 months by eating right and hitting the gym daily. Last year, I had two clients go from once or twice a week gym visits to competing in a triathlon with me. Currently, I have 3 clients that have lost between 30-150 pounds and are now running on a treadmill for the first time in years, and in one case, running for the first time ever! One woman I am working with has lost 150 pounds in the last year and came in second place last weekend during a two mile walk.

What is the best part about your work?

Every once in a while, someone I am working with will start a story with, “So, this weekend during my run I was…” and I stop them to make sure I heard them right. When clients start doing things on their own, like signing up for a race, saying no to donut day at work, or other “lifestyle changes” I can’t tell you how excited that gets me. Things like that remind me who much I love what I do. Just this morning I received a picture text of a client that has lost over 20 pounds and 6 inches off his waistline in 2 months. He put on an old pair of jeans, stuck both arms down the sides of his pants and his wife took a picture and sent it to me. I saved it on my phone. What a great way to start the day!

31 days of Fresno is a blog about all of the great things in Fresno, so I have to ask- What do you think the best thing about living in Fresno is?

Fresno is the underdog-we are unpredictable. We go from electing a mediocre television star to mayor (no disrespect intended) to a young, vibrant business woman. The world sees our team win the College World series, then we are back in the spotlight as the drunkest city in America according to Men’s Health Magazine. The world looks at Fresno as a pit stop between Northern and Southern California, but those of us that call this place home know it is way more than an empty security bank building and a truck stop off of Herndon Avenue. We have culture. We have history. I believe Fresno is on the cusp of being a major player in California. I hope to be a part of that growth.

Along the same vein, its Friday night, where in Fresno are you and what are you doing?

My days start around 5am and the bulk of it is working with clients. When Friday night hits, I am arm and arm with my bride, wherever we are. A night game at Grizzly Stadium in downtown Fresno is a great time, and I really miss the Falcon Hockey team. Honestly, my perfect Friday night is spent at home with a few friends playing Sequence and sipping on locally grown coffee.

I know, you’re totally already inspired and ready to go work out, right? I told you this guy was great! You can reach him by e-mail at or you can stalk him at Synergy Personal Training Studio– just be warned, he might draw you in and have you lifting gigantic tires in no time.


  1. Barry Falke
    May 13, 2010

    Nice Kim! Love the idea for the new series and Jim has been a friend for many years. He is a great Fresnan.

  2. Natali
    May 13, 2010

    Great interview Kim and great answers Jim! (Have known Jim since h.s.) Definitely a motivating guy! Off to take an after dinner walk (dinner followed the gym :-))

  3. janetfromtheheart
    July 4, 2010

    I am really enjoying your blog and this interview. Just a question on his answer of what he enjoys on a Friday night – "locally grown" coffee? Is coffee grown here? Or did he mean locally roasted coffee?

  4. jamesleath
    January 10, 2011

    @Janetfromtheheart, I get my coffee from the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings at Shaw and Blackstone. I just assumed it was local, now I will have to find out!

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